Thursday, 26 September 2013

Akpom shines as Monreal converts to put Arsenal through -Fabainski states claim

Morning Gooners.

Another win on the road keeps our record going and I think that feat, along with impressive performances from a  number of youngsters and a penalty shoot-out win are the most rewarding features of last night's defeat of West Brom.

Let's face it, the first half was dull. Neither goalkeeper had too much to do. But when you make ten changes to the team, play a mixture of first team and youth players, there are bound to be an adaptation period. So I think we can make allowances that Arsene Wenger's team weren't at their best.

The second half certainly saw more action. And it was Thomas Eisfeld's first competitive goal for the club which put us in the lead after a lay off from Nicklas Bendtner. It was a classy finish which sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

However 10 minutes later we were pegged back with Saido Berahino scoring after we failed to properly see out a corner. The original corner was defended well by our zonal system, however when the ball had only been half cleared, West Brom had a second opportunity to cross the ball back into the box and the second phased of the corner wasn't dealt with at all well.

Fabianski might have thought he could have saved the header, but his defence did little to protect him. West Brom had another similar chance later on in the game when the second ball from the corner wasn't well defended but this time the chance wasn't taken. I do hope that it will have been something that Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff picked up on and work at in training.

Nicklas Bendtner had a chance to win it for us, but he was too slow in getting his shot away and was left flat on his face after a good clean challenge from a West Brom defender.

Wenger chose to bring on Chuba Akpom for Eisfeld and Kristoffer Olsson for Isaac Hayden before the end of the game. I thought Hayden really grew into the game. He was perhaps lucky not to get a red card for a first half challenge which chopped a West Brom player in two, but as the game went on he did well.

Eisfeld also showed glimpses of what he can do but along with Ryo Miyaichi and Serge Gnabry, the young front three didn't get into the game much. After an impressive full debut on Sunday, I thought Gnabry wasn't at his best last night. Miyaichi on the other hand got better as the game went on. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of him while Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are out injured.

Akpom showed some real promise in his debut in this competition. His direct running really put West Brom on the back foot. Hopefully his good cameo performance last night will give him the chance to start more games from the bench because he certainly looked lively.

So at full time it finished all square. And probably an even reflection on the game as the home side had certainly kept Lukasz Fabianski more busier than we had Luke Daniels in the home goal. The Poland international pulled off a number of impressive saves in his first game of the season. More performances like this and he could be forcing Wojciech Szczesny out of the first team.

It turned into a real cup tie during extra time with end to end opportunities for both sides. Mikel Arteta was forced off the field with cramp and was replaced by Hector Bellerin. The Barcelona youth team product had a chance to score after a strong run which evaded a number of West Brom players but his effort was wide.

So penalties it went to. Our last shoot out ended in us being eliminated from this competition back at Bradford last season. It's always a lottery and Gnabry was the first player from either side to see his spot kick saved. Luckily two West Brom players put their efforts wide and it came down on Nacho Monreal's spot kick. Score and we progress and the Spain international converted to send Arsenal into the fourth round.

We've a mouthwatering home tie against Chelsea next month. And I can't wait for that.

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